Aflalo resignation solidifies anti-Livni forces

Aflalo is the new honorary co-chairman of JNF-KKL, will be replaced by Kadima activist Avi Duan.

Kadima MK Eli Aflalo 311 (photo credit: Itzik Edri / Kadima Spokesman)
Kadima MK Eli Aflalo 311
(photo credit: Itzik Edri / Kadima Spokesman)
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni announced with great fanfare last week that half of her party’s 28 MKs had endorsed her in the March 27 party leadership race against Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz, and more would be joining them soon.
But since then, more and more MKs have been coming out in favor of Mofaz, who may end up with the support of the majority of the faction by the end of the week.
Mofaz received a boost Monday when MK Eli Aflalo tendered his resignation from the Knesset to Speaker Reuven Rivlin.
Aflalo, who is the new honorary co-chairman of Keren Kayemet LeIsrael, will be replaced in the Knesset on Wednesday by Kadima activist Avi Duan, Mofaz’s campaign manager.
“I’m emotional to leave my home of nine years,” Aflalo said. “I hope I accomplished my goal of helping the people of the periphery.”
Duan will join MKs Shai Hermesh, Yisrael Hasson, Yohanan Plesner, Ruhama Avraham-Balila, Ronit Tirosh, Otniel Schneller, Yulia Shamolov Berkovich and Arieh Bibi, who back Mofaz. MK Ze’ev Bielski met with Livni Monday night and told her he would also endorse Mofaz.
“I respect her a lot and she is a very courageous woman,” Bielski said. “But I see the situation Kadima is in and we must stop the deterioration.”
Bielski said he had been working closely with Mofaz and saw how he makes decisions, delegates, and works as a team.
“His history as an immigrant who rose to be IDF chief of General Staff and making life and death decisions is impressive,” Bielski said. “At this time, Kadima needs a change. I believe Mofaz can restore Kadima’s former place as the ruling party in the Israeli government.”
MK Ya’acov Edri will meet with Livni Wednesday, the same day Livni loses an MK to Mofaz when Duan replaces Aflalo.
Edri said Monday night that he was leaning toward supporting Mofaz, which would make the score 13-12 in her favor.
But MKs Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit are expected to eventually drop their hopes of running themselves and endorse Mofaz, which would give him a majority. The only MK left in Kadima is faction head Dalia Itzik, who has fought bitterly with Livni for two years and is seen by Livni’s supporters as in the Mofaz camp.
One MK who endorsed Mofaz called Livni on Monday “a cow who we milked too much and now has nothing left to offer us.”
A Livni associate downplayed the quantity of her supporters in the faction and said what really mattered was the quality.
He said the support of Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon and Kadima house committee head Tzahi Hanegbi was more critical than that of many MKs.
The Kadima faction officially endorsed advancing the primary on Monday. The Kadima council will give its final approval Thursday night.